The status of tahiyyatul masjid

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Q) There are ahadiths that report that one should pray two rakaats of Tahiyatul Masjid before one sits when entering masjid. Has that person sinned if he sits without reason when he enters the masjid? And what about one who enters during Jum`ah khutbah? What is the ruling for one entering the masjid before the farz of Fajr? And should we wait before praying maghrib to pray 2 rakaats? Please enlighten us on the issue.

A) Hamidan wa musalliyan, Bismillahirahmaniraheem.

Any prescription from the Qur-aan and sunnah signifies an obligation to abide by it except where it is indicated explicitly by shar`ee texts and practice that it is not obligatory. Then, accordingly, we would adjust and fine-tune the prescription according to the meaning of other ahadiths and the practice of sahabas (r.a.) regarding sunnah muakkadah (Emphasised sunnah), sunnah ghair muakkadah or mustahab(recommended).

To understand the whole picture of the sunnah, one hadith cannot play the ace card of the scene. But we need to look at other sayings of the holy prophet(saw) and also we need to look at the practice of the sahabas who lived, understood and witnessed the last practices of the prophet(saw). In front of them was constructed the whole picture puzzle of the sunnah. The Qur-aan and sunnah were revealed progressively and hence it is as if each ayah and hadith are like a piece of the puzzle of the whole picture of sunnah. There is no better interpretation of the sunnah than the way Abu Bakr (r.a.), Umar(r.a.) and other close sahabas (r.a.) understood and practiced upon it. The sahabas would discern between the first revealed order and the last revealed order to bring the final fruit of sunnah. In the arena of sahabas, we would accept more those who lived close to the holy prophet (saw) and until the end of prophecy. Hazrat Abdullah bin Mas`ood(r.a.) is one of the eminent sahaba who lived in the beginning with the prophet(saw) and stayed close with him until the end of prophecy. He was sent during Umar’s caliphate to propagate the Qur-aan and sunnah in Kufah. Hazrat Mu`az bin Jabal(r.a.) was also a very learned sahaba, but he passed away very young.

The fact is that to learn and propagate was the stem strength to not only propagate deen, but also to preserve the sunnah of the holy prophet(saw). Some sahabas attended upon the holy prophet (saw) for a while while others did so longer. They went back to their tribes and preserved their understanding of sunnah in their tribes. This gave birth to a slight difference between areas and formed later on the pattern of mazhabs in different countries of the world. While Egypt, Malaysia and South India evolved on Shafi`ee mazhab, other countries like Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India evolved around the hanafee mazhab. A question that always arises is that the mazhab evolution occurred after the sahabas’ era. Can those who came after be a better resource than the original? The answer is in the affirmative on the condition that the original is rightly extrapolated and also that the originality is not modified or distorted. A clear example is the mufassir of the ummah: Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbas (r.a.). He was only a child when the prophet passed away. But he kept learning from sahabas until he excelled more than anyone else in the knowledge of the holy Qur-aan. In fact the holy prophet(saw) did say: There are many whom the propagation reached who had a better understanding than the one who listened to it originally.(Bukhari) This answers the question that although mazhabs developed later, they still may be a reliable source to follow since the originality of the sunnah has been preserved in them. Just as nowadays the hadiths of Bukhari are understood to be more reliable than those of other books of hadiths although the latter were before the era of Imam Bukhari: Mousnad Imam Malik for instance. In this equilibrium of respect and belief that sahabas are better than their students in status and grade, and while following the Tab`eins or their students` mazhab, the follower finds the last dominating sunnah in whatever school of thought he follows. Nonetheless, ulamas of each era have been active players promulgating the sunnah since ‘the ulamas are the inheritors of the prophet`s knowledge. (Bukhari) Basing themselves on understanding of sunnah, ulamas developed some established principles to weigh the different connotations of shariah. This ends up the introductory note that answers your question and you will note the picturesque pattern of this note in the development of the answer.

First of all, there are sahih hadiths reporting that the holy prophet(saw) said that when entering the masjid, two rakaats have to be read before sitting(Bukhari, Muslim). But we also find other hadiths that indicate that the holy prophet (saw) ordered the person who entered the masjid to sit: the hadith of Abu Dawood where the holy prophet( saw) ordered one sahabi who was entering at khutbah time while crossing the saffs by walking over the shoulders of people: Sit down, you have indeed harmed. (Abu Dawood) So on one side we have the hadith of the order to perform salaah and in the other we have the order to sit. According to the principle of shariah, when there are two opposite orders, then we need to clarify which one is the last abrogative order. If this is not clarified, then we would give preference to the prohibition order. The first principle is unanimously accepted since there are obligatory prescriptions that became only recommendations in later stages of revelation. For example, the fast of 10th of Muharram was obligatory in the beginning, then it became mustahab in Madinah. The second principle of judgement is that if there is no time indication of the hadiths and one gives a positive order and the other gives a negative order, then the holy prophet (saw) ruled that it is better to leave the order. There is the example of a bridegroom that only one woman attested to the fact that his bride was her foster sister. The holy prophet (saw) advised him to leave the bride even if the proof is weak on the issue that the bride may be the foster sister of the husband. (Bukhari) Also, in the case of game hunting, the prophet told `Adi to leave the prey in case he found another dog along with his dog. (Bukhari) Because the other dog may have been sent without saying bismillah. Now if we have the two hadiths where on one side we have order to pray and other hadith where the order is to sit, then the prescription becomes a recommendation and not an obligation. From Bukhari, we find that during the era of Umar (r.a.), he was delivering the Friday khutbah when Usman (r.a.) entered and Umar (ra) scolded him for his lateness. But he did not exhort Usman to pray 2 rakats before sitting. Hence this brings to us the fact that the comprehension of most sahabas was that tahiyatul masjid was recommended and not obligatory. Hence when entering the masjid at prohibited times like sunrise, zenith, after assr and also during Friday Khutbah, then tahiyyatul masjid is not allowed. However, during permissible times of salaah, it is recommended that we respect the masjid and perform 2 rakaats. In due respect, at least once a day we should perform this recommendation. But if someone does not perform tahiyatul masjid, then he would not be sinning since leaving a recommendation is not a sin.

Taking into account the hadith of Bukhari on Sulaik Ghutfani and Abu Sa`eed Khudri(r.a.) praying 2 rakaats during Friday Khutbah, we do not find any other sahabas performing tahiyatul masjid at Jum`ah times. We may deduce therefrom that sahabas` understanding was that they considered it a recommendation. Hence where the Holy Qur-aan is exhorting us to listen to the khutbah, we cannot apply a recommendation at such time.

Furthermore, we cannot take into consideration only one hadith and leave a greater number of ahadiths, because the picture of sunnah requires the whole puzzle of ahadiths. Other riwayats in Tirmizi, Mustadrak Hakim, Ibn Khuzaimah, Baihaqi and musnad Ahmad reported that the prophet (saw) ordered a sahabi to pray exceptionally so as to show people his poverty and then he ordered people to give Sadaqahs to him. Hence this explains the reason for him only to perform 2 rakaats so as to show his poor condition to the people. And the riwayahs of Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah tell us that the prophet waited for him to finish his 2 rakaats until he finished his salaahs. The same book reports that in the times of Umar (ra) and Usman (ra), they used to leave all salaah at khutbah times. As such, we may conclude that the abrogating sunnah was that there should be absolutely no salaah at khutbah times and also no tahiyyatul masjid.

When one enters the masjid at the time of Fajr salaah, there is no nafil salaah to be prayed except the 2 sunnah muakkadah salaah. It is clear from the hadith of muslim shareef that sahabas used to perform only the 2 rakaats sunnah of Fajr and 2 rakaats of Farz from the subha sadiq until sunrise.

كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا طَلَعَ الْفَجْرُ لَا يُصَلِّي إِلَّا رَكْعَتَيْنِ خَفِيفَتَيْنِ

When Fajr time started, the holy prophet (saw) did not perform any salaah except the two short sunnah rakaats.(Muslim)
 
عَنْ يَسَارٍ مَوْلَى ابْنِ عُمَرَ قَالَ رَآنِي ابْنُ عُمَرَ وَأَنَا أُصَلِّي بَعْدَ طُلُوعِ الْفَجْرِ فَقَالَ يَا يَسَارُ إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ خَرَجَ عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ نُصَلِّي هَذِهِ الصَّلَاةَ فَقَالَ لِيُبَلِّغْ شَاهِدُكُمْ غَائِبَكُمْ لَا تُصَلُّوا بَعْدَ الْفَجْرِ إِلَّا سَجْدَتَيْنِ

Yassar, the freed slave of Ibn Umar(r.a) said: Ibn Umar(r.a.) saw me when I prayed after Subha Sadiq. He said to me: The holy prophet(saw) saw us praying that salaah and hence He exclaimed: May those who are present pass it on to those who are absent: Do not perform any salaah after Fajr started except the 2 rakaats of sunnah. (Abu Dawood)

Hence if you come at Fajr time, you are forbidden to pray tahiyyatul masjid or any nafil. However, if you did not pray your 2 sunnah muakkadah salaah at home, then do pray them in the masjid.

Furthermore it is forbidden to perform any salaah after Fajr salaah and after Assr salaah. The famous hadith of Ibn Majah, Baihaqi and Musnad Ahmad reports:

لَا صَلَاةَ بَعْدَ الْفَجْرِ حَتَّى تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ وَلَا صَلَاةَ بَعْدَ الْعَصْرِ حَتَّى تَغْرُبَ الشَّمْسُ

There is no salaah after Fajr salaah until sunrise and there is no salaah after Assr salaah until sunset.(Ibn Majah)

The three times when nafil salaah is prohibited are: Sunrise until about 10 minutes, at Zenith or the highest point of the sun and at sunset.(Ibn Majah, Mustadrak) Hence it is prohibited for anyone who enters the masjid at those hours to perform tahiyyatul masjid. It is also prohibited after subha sadiq until Ishraaq time and after Assr until sunset.

Now when the sun has set, then as quickly as possible, one should pray maghrib salaah. Because the prophet(saw) was being indicated the times of all 5 salaahs by hazrat Jibra-il (a.s.) from their starting time till their ending time. For Fajr, he prayed at Subha sadiq on the first day, then, on the second day, just before sunrise.

ثُمَّ جَاءَهُ لِلْمَغْرِبِ حِينَ غَابَتْ الشَّمْسُ يَعْنِي مِنْ الْغَدِ وَقْتًا وَاحِدًا
 But for maghrib, Jibra-il (a.s.) came at the same time as the day before, that is, right after sunset. (Abu Dawood, Tirmizi, Mustadrak) This emphasized the fact that maghrib should be prayed right after sunset. In another hadith found in Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, Mustadrak, the prophet (saw) said:
لَا تَزَالُ أُمَّتِي بِخَيْرٍ أَوْ قَالَ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ مَا لَمْ يُؤَخِّرُوا الْمَغْرِبَ إِلَى أَنْ تَشْتَبِكَ النُّجُومُ

My ummah will stay on its well-being or on its purity until it does not push the time for maghrib until the discernment of stars.

دَخَلْتُ أَنَا وَمَسْرُوقٌ عَلَى عَائِشَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا فَقَالَ لَهَا مَسْرُوقٌ رَجُلَانِ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ مُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كِلَاهُمَا لَا يَأْلُو عَنْ الْخَيْرِ أَحَدُهُمَا يُعَجِّلُ الْمَغْرِبَ وَالْإِفْطَارَ وَالْآخَرُ يُؤَخِّرُ الْمَغْرِبَ وَالْإِفْطَارَ فَقَالَتْ مَنْ يُعَجِّلُ الْمَغْرِبَ وَالْإِفْطَارَ قَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ فَقَالَتْ هَكَذَا كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَصْنَعُ

Another riwayat of Muslim indicates that the holy prophet (saw) used to break fast early after sunset and pray maghrib spontaneously after that.

Furthermore the hadith that says that there is salaah between azaan and iqamah also gives exception to maghrib as found in musnad Bazzar, Darul Qutni and Baihaqi.

This brings us to the conclusion that the sunnah of the prophet (saw) and the well being of the ummah lie in praying maghrib quickly and without delay. The holy prophet (saw) did order us to pray early and hence we will not take into account those sahabas who prayed 2 rakaats before maghrib since there is no direct order from the prophet (saw) for them to do so. The general rule is to pray maghrib as quickly as possible. Other actions contrary to that may be regarded as exception to the general rule. Furthermore, Hazrat Jibra-il (a.s.) did show us only one time for maghrib: right after sunset. Hence it is makrooh to purposely delay maghrib salaah without any valid reason. Since the performance of 2 rakaats of tahiyatul masjid is only a recommendation, we cannot delay an emphasized order from the prophet (saw) for that.

Finally, we should follow the core sunnah that most sahabas followed, and should not be diverted to individual practices related to one or a few sahabis only. The general rule is established and meant to be followed, and exceptions to that may be treated as particular individual cases.

Wallahu a`lam bissawab.

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